Who Told you That?

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“Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself – your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down.”

― Robert Greene, The 50th Law

When I was little my dad used to play at rough-housing with me and my siblings. There was a game he called “King of the Mountain” and the object of the game was to knock off whoever tried to get to the top of the pillow mountain first. We loved this game because first we got to play with dad, always a great time, then we got to make a huge mess of all the pillows we could find in the house and then make a humungous mountain as tall as we could possibly reach. I have to say that to 3, 4, and 5-year-old eyes this was the tallest structure ever created. We then would clear away all manner of hurtful hard objects and proceed to strategize as to just how to climb this monumental structure without getting caught and tackled to the ground. There was a hysterical amount of tickling involved in this game designed specifically to weaken our little bodies enough that we couldn’t find the strength to climb anything at all, all while trying to prevent dad from reaching the top of the mountain and declare himself King.

One could argue that this was a life lesson in how to overcome impossible obstacles that life will inevitably throw at us; how to overcome those demons that are designed and determined to keep us down physically and mentally, philosophically and psychologically whether in words or deeds and life lessons in how to get creative in problem solving all while laughing out loud. Blah, blah, blah; we just thought it was so fun to spend undivided time with dad. But wait, now I’m curious…..

What keeps you feeling down? What mountains are in front of you that need to be climbed? What motivates you to climb those mountains?

There are many important questions that come along in our lifetime. Questions that create angst, change, upheaval, awareness, peace, etc. Of all the questions that I have come across as a life coach, the one question that seems to have the most impact is the one question that attacks the essence of who my client is at any given moment. This question seems to evolve and keeps evolving as we learn and grow and become. This question has the potential of becoming habit forming; a reminder to always check my sources and resources in order to keep fear at bay and inner strength at the ready.

The questions I ask myself on a daily basis are, for the most part, always in helpful surrender to aid in making me the best possible version of who I strive to become. Who I am today is in no way who I will be later in life and although who I was yesterday may carry over into who I am right this moment, my “yesterday” self always has the ability to be better tomorrow. What is this incredible question?

Who told you that?

This question falls under the auspices of false beliefs or limiting beliefs and carries a tremendous amount of weight inside our heads and hearts. Most of us allow that the things we choose to believe, whether we realize it as our choice or not, are the things that hold us back from a fulfilling, productive, purposeful life. For a lot of people, believing the limiting beliefs we cling to holds a lot of fear in preventing us from exploring all kinds of fearless possibilities.

This question has been a constant companion for me for many years. It takes on many faces such as, who told you that you are not worthy of a better life, a better job, or a better outcome? Who told you that you have to compromise on what means the most to you? Who told you that if you experience happiness of any kind you are only allowed that one-time experience and then doomed to misery thereafter? Who told you that the love you have in your life is all you are allotted in one lifetime? Who told you that brown and pink don’t go well together? Who told you that if your children are not successful in their own right that means that you are not a successful parent?

More importantly when did you start believing all of this?

For as long as we live there will be life moments that test our inner strength; that make life feel as if this one time experience is the most impossible mountain to climb. Questions like this one help to keep us grounded and present and focused on being and becoming our best selves. The fear factor here might be, “what if I can’t answer this question or what if I stay stuck in my limiting beliefs?” I suggest taking time to unpack the question step by slow moving step until you come to understand how you got here.

Family therapist, author, marathon runner and professor Cami Ostman teaches an incredible workshop on how to successfully put the “Who told you that” question to the test and how to successfully answer it and use the question and answer to your advantage. When we feel stuck in our fear of not being enough and believing that we are truly not enough Ms. Ostman says that “we are not aligning with our true nature; we are not aligning with our core selves.” She goes on to say, “Our true nature, our core selves, are calm, joyful and centered. Most of our limiting beliefs start in childhood based on what we perceived as a need to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or hurt or shameful or weak. Our true nature thrives on genuine support from others and uses 4 qualities to help us thrive.” Those 4 qualities are:

*Clarity of purpose: Who does it benefit to take the road less traveled? Who does it benefit to follow the leader?

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

*Faith: Enjoy each step along the way and know that whatever choice you make; all will be okay.

“Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.” Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

*Commitment to ourselves and our purposes: What is one tiny step you can take each morning to bring you closer to where you want to be?

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” John Mayer

*Sovereignty: The unshakable knowledge that we are the supreme rulers of our own minds and choices and decisions. Who has given you permission to question your own self- worth, in other words, who told you that and why are you believing it? When we truly believe that we are sovereign over our hearts, minds and bodies then we are free to come and go, to explore and choose wisely and be impactful in all we do.

“Peggy is a sovereign nation. She governs herself and those around her by her own laws.” Katlyn Charlesworth, The Patriot’s Daughter

According to Ms. Ostman, bringing forth your true nature is a practice of letting go of fear; letting go of limiting beliefs, letting go of those things that were told to you whether to protect you or to scare you to stand still. Ms. Ostman suggests respectfully thanking all the parts of us that tried to protect us from the fears that are holding us back, wishing those parts well and firmly telling those parts that it is now time to take the reins and face the fears and the adventure that awaits.

As If….

A great way to begin your journey of shedding those limiting beliefs, of shedding fear is to take these 4 qualities and start with the end in mind. Let’s play….

Kari always wanted to be an artist. Her talents have been recognized by the obvious people in her life, her art teachers, her friends, her classmates, etc. but for some reason Kari has not taken all of those accolades and turned it into the art studio/gallery that she has always imagined. Kari doesn’t believe within herself that her art work is good enough to sell or that strangers would want to buy what she is creating. She is beginning to feel like doing art of any kind is a waste of time and that she needs to start getting serious about her life and start to make a living. “It feels like there is just too much wasted time in art and I need to pay my bills and just get on with my life at this point.” Who told Kari that art is too much of wasted time? Who told Kari that being an artist isn’t a serious pursuit of making a life? Who told Kari that she isn’t good enough to make art her career? When did those limiting beliefs start to take deep roots in her heart and mind?

There are a few choices Kari can make: She can give up her art completely and get a “real” job, she can only do her artwork for her own pleasure and joy, she can give her artwork away to friends and colleagues as gifts so that at least her art will be “out there” even if it hangs in someone else’s house or office or she can imagine one last time what it would be like to have the art studio/gallery she always dreamed about.

Kari chooses to imagine one last time about her art studio. Kari chose the “as if” option and she lets her imagination run wild with the end in mind, “as if” she made her dream come true and opened her art studio and became the successful artist she always dreamed of becoming. Out loud Kari imagines it is opening night at her art studio and the walls are full of her artwork in every medium. There are lots of people at the opening tonight including people that came as guests of those that received an invitation and the biggest surprise of all is that the media are here tonight to interview Kari and get her story. Kari imagines the gorgeous outfit she is wearing and imagines that her parents are there and feel so proud of her for sticking with her dream and making it come true. Kari imagines the food and drinks being passed around, she imagines the pockets of conversation going on around her studio, she imagines the music playing in the background and how great everyone looks tonight because they came to this special event. At the end of the night Kari imagines her most sacred piece of art being sold to an art collector and Kari being commissioned to do work for businesses in and around her art studio.

The greatest take away for Kari in playing the “as if” game is that she just thought about even more ideas on how to make her studio/gallery a great success. By opening herself up to the possibilities and by letting herself feel the happiness in her core-self, by freeing her mind and heart from limiting beliefs, Kari has experienced more joy in these few minutes than in the past year of struggling to be “practical” about her future.

Call to Action

Find a friend, mentor, coach, or use your own reflection in the mirror and play the “as if” game with your dreams. No limiting beliefs allowed. Dress the part, play the music, set the scene and have at it. Notice everything, the way you look, the way you feel, the way your thoughts expand. Who told you that you can’t make this vision your reality?

One of Ms. Ostman’s most successful practices is to interview fear and listen to what comes up in that discussion. If you are interested in trying this interview with fear, please give me a call. You will be changed from this experience.

On a piece of paper make a list down one side of the paper of all the things that you believe today. On the other side of the paper make a list of how you came to have each belief; in other words, who told you that? On a new piece of paper make a list of all the new things you are now going to believe that will help move you toward the person you want to be. Keep in mind on this new list, that YOU are giving yourself permission to believe these new things, act on these new things, dream these new things and become these new things.

Write a good-bye letter to your old self letting go of the fearful things that you have told to yourself or have been told to you that you are currently believing; letting go of the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from becoming your true self. Before you end the good-bye to old self letter start to write about all the new things your new, free self will be experiencing from now on. What successful, happy, expansive experiences will you be adding to your new life? How much can you honestly feel inside of your core-self that you believe you honestly, courageously, and wholeheartedly will experience in all the amazing life moments that are destined to come to you?

You Are Becoming

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“We all wind up drawn to what we’re afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Ever since beginning my journey to become a great life coach there has been one word that keeps swirling around me. I had not ever heard this word and my name spoken in the same sentence before my journey but I hear this word quite often since embarking on my journey. One word that I never in all my life would associate with describing who I am; one word that sounds so empowering and makes everything so possible and yet it has been a word I have been afraid of my whole life. I heard it yet again a day ago in relationship to me and I had to just sit very still and really think about all the times where this word has shown itself in my life and wonder why I just haven’t made the connection. Why does this word strike such fear inside of me?

Before I reveal the word let me ask you this question:

In your lifetime in what circumstance have you ever wished you could see yourself the way other people see you?

This could be in a good light or a not so good light. This could be on your “best foot forward” day or your “I wish I stayed in bed today” day. This could be in a spiritual way meaning wanting to see yourself as God sees you but not being able to do so.

Many times I have wished I could see in me what other people see in me. I absolutely believe that if I had the “knowing” of what other people believe I can be or what they think I already am then I could conquer the world. I believe this because of the one thing I know about myself most of all and that is that I hate to let people down.

It’s not really a people pleasing knowing that I have about who I am it’s more of a challenge I adopt within my heart that pushes me to do and become simply because someone I trust and admire has a knowing about me, an insight about me that I never allowed or truly saw in my own self. There is a becoming about me that other people see whether it is in the form of who I am becoming or that I am becoming in appearance or in a spiritual sense.

“Sight is one of the most easily deceived senses. I could make a coin disappear and your eyes would believe it gone, even if it were merely up my sleeve.” Megan Chance, The Spiritualist

I find this quote so universal and so important. What does someone see in each of us that we hide from our own selves? What disappears from within us that we believe is gone or never existed yet another person can see as if it were part of our face or skin or clothing? Something someone else sees but knows that we don’t so it appears to have disappeared but is not truly gone. It’s kind of a version of faith; to walk in the trust of what is unseen.

What holds each of us back from becoming who we are meant to be or who we want to be?

The dictionary defines the word becoming as:

  • Flattering a person’s appearance
  • The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state or any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality

We are all in such a rush to “get there” wherever there is that we forget or choose not to stop and listen and see that in order to become we must slow down and be the word that has been swirling around me….courageous. Using the word courage is how people have been describing me for the past 3-1/2 years and it comes up so often that I can’t ignore it anymore. I still don’t see it when looking through my own eyes but I absolutely must see what other people see if I am to become what they believe me to be; what their faith in me speaks to them.

Where does courage show up for me? Courage shows up when I am vulnerable, when I admit I don’t know something and can open my heart to receiving help and guidance, when I am asked to face a fear and work through it in the truth of not wanting to face the person inside of me who is saying, “Walk away from this. You don’t have to face this.” Courage shows up when life gets really, raw-ly emotional for me and I have to stand and face that painful dragon and slay it. Courage shows up when someone hears a piece of my story and their take away is the courage they heard in my voice and in my words when I never felt courageous at all while going through it.

What has happened inside of my heart is that by hearing the word courageous associated with me the person and me the spirit I have created a trail behind me that I want to always remain and lead me home. I am starting to believe in this crazy word. I may not yet fully associate courage with who I am but I like what other people are seeing in my becoming and I don’t want to let them or myself down. I want to keep exploring this empowering feeling and word and see what I can see as I go along creating my truth and building self-trust.

In her book Daring Greatly, author and scientist Dr. Brene` Brown said this when describing herself through vulnerability, courage and allowing herself to see what other people see in her:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I had no idea that in each life moment where I stood up and plowed through a fear I was courageous and vulnerable and revealing a truth about who I am deep inside, yet other people could see it in me all along.

Dr. Brown goes on to say:

“All the love and support I received allowed me to slowly begin to take more risks, to show up at work and at home in new ways. I took more chances and tried new things.” Because of each conquest I had made that lay behind me I was unknowingly building strength and empowerment toward the next big thing. And each time I was in a situation to tell my story there came that word again, courage.

What I’ve ultimately learned is that by sharing my stories where I unknowingly showed courage I have been able to allow those listeners to imagine themselves facing the same fears and making it through on their own way toward becoming their best selves.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about the incredible walk I’ve been taking toward my own becoming….

Trust: Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your sincerity and integrity. Trust that although the process might take a lifetime, each step is for and toward a purpose. There is no rush toward becoming whatever you want to become or whoever you want to become because each level you reach is a level you needed to obtain in order to keep going forward. It may not be for you in the end, it may be for someone else entirely, keep going.

“Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from ‘Instructions’)” Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Believe in your value: For me the word courage is truly a value in action. I’ve shared with you before about how our values show up in our lives whether intentionally or magically. Knowing what your values are is a very strong and empowering step in your becoming. When I first took the test to determine my top 5 values out of the 24 values we all carry within us, courage was somewhere in the middle. Recently I was asked to take the test again and surprisingly courage appeared in my top five. I just shake my head. I had no idea how strongly courage has played a role in my life until I decided to dedicate myself to finding my life.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sight: This is a tough one. It is far easier to hide from the truth of what we see in our own soul than to admit the vulnerability and the blessing in bringing it to light. I can recall many times in my life when I hid from my own self in order to not face my own truth. What I’ve learned is that life does not exist in the places we choose not to see. Life can only exist in bringing forward all the messy, mixed up, odd, weirdness’s that make up who we are. I have taken action steps with the utmost of integrity and seen first-hand the power those steps have created. Take what you see from within your own soul, the person you see that you want to be and take that first step with integrity toward that unique and wondrous person. The people in your world will thank you for it and your heart will grow and your eyes will see what can’t be seen because your heart will grow.

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” Shannon L. Alder

Courage: I can’t think of a better word than this. To have courage means to exercise your will to accomplish goals you set for yourself in the face of opposition, whether it is an external opposition or internal opposition. Another way to look at this is in the word bravery. According to professors and authors, the late Christopher Peterson and current University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, their book Character Strengths and Virtues talks about bravery as the “ability to do what needs to be done despite fear. Beyond the domain of battle on a battlefield, bravery allows for this character strength to be applied by not only saying or doing the unpopular but correct thing but in also facing terminal illness with equanimity and to resisting peer pressure regarding a morally questionable shortcut.” To this I would add that it also takes meaning in any act large or small where we are running through our own internal fears of whatever we have chosen to face head on.

For example: When I was tasked at my temp job to create an excel chart and maintenance form I panicked. I don’t do excel well at all. The challenge before me was to get the task done and done very well. I enlisted the help of a colleague to teach me some basic things and then I took it from there. I refused to leave for the day until the bulk of the work was done. That was my internal opposition. It took all kinds of crazy courage to meet the challenge of fear that excel symbolizes for me but I did it. Did I feel courageous? No. Did I feel successful in the end? Yes. Would I choose to take on another excel project? Oh hell No. Did I prove I could do it and so I could do it again? Yes. Ultimately what stayed inside of me, what I see now, is that when courage is needed I enlist, without thought. When my kids would get hurt and cry in pain I surprised myself every time by not panicking. I stayed even tempered, quiet, calm and loving for them and later when they were back to their playful, happy, bouncy selves I let out a deep breath and cried a little.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Take some time to really, deeply think about your own character strengths and values; listen to how often a particular value comes up in your life; allow yourself to see where you are being an example day after day of this character strength and value. Believe what can’t be seen by you alone. That is faith, and that is having a knowing that you are indeed becoming as you walk through your purposes in life.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

 ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Call to Action

What are some of your core values often hidden but revealed in patterns of your behavior?

What would it take to acknowledge, out loud, in every way of your everyday those hidden core values?

When do you find yourself becoming your most “real” self?

In what ways have you been seen by others as real, as honest, as courageous, as vulnerable but did not allow yourself to see those truths within you?

Activity Challenge

In an effort to practice seeing those things we choose not to see or just can’t see, ask yourself just one of these questions every day and really dive into your day and all its glory. Then in whatever fashion helps you to express your answer use it. It could be journaling, praying, talking to a friend, coach or partner. The questions are:

What went right today?

What left you filled with awe today?

Where did your heart lead you today?

Where or in whom did I find inspiration today?

4 Pathways Through the Triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage

The Greek word for truth is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” When was the last time you yourself were absolutely truthful in the presence of someone else? When was the last time you candidly chose to not hide something from within you?

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

The number one coaching rule: Don’t trust me (the coach). Does that sound backwards? Why, you ask, should I not trust my coach? Because the person you should trust first and always is YOU. Trust deep within you that what you seek in life and spirit and wisdom is what makes up your truth and carries you through into everything you do.

When you enlist a life coach to help get you up and over and through the forest of your life you will be asked some really tough, hard to answer, hard to face questions AND you will be held accountable for the answers that you give and for the actions you take toward the outcome you hope to achieve. Think you are ready for a life coach? Think again and again and again because a life coach will expose your vulnerabilities and will challenge your courage. A life coach will ask for YOUR TRUTH and if you are not prepared to face your truth, if you think you need to hide behind a mask of perfection or arrogance or half-truths then you are not ready. Friends, spouses, community leaders, teachers, etc. all ask you for your truth. How honest have you been? How vulnerable have you allowed yourself to be?

In her amazing book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene` Brown talks about vulnerability at length and before you are through chapter two you know for sure that vulnerability is truth. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” (pg. 37 DG).

Examples of how vulnerability feels range from:

“It feels like taking off the mask and hoping the real me isn’t too disappointing” to “You are half way across a tightrope, and moving forward and going back are both just as scary” to “Letting go of control” to the ultimate analogy, “Vulnerability is like being naked onstage hoping for applause rather than laughter.”

What is the truth of your vulnerability? Do you know where your weak spots are? Are you courageous enough to admit to those weak spots, out loud, in front of a crowd, metaphorically naked?

My husband and I have been staring vulnerability and truth in the face this year and it has been a very, very tough time. The kids are getting older and starting to spread their wings so our time together as a couple has been more than we have ever been used to. Having so much time together has put us in a position of talking more, seeing each other in different ways and not always liking what we see. We never took the time to invest in the bank of our relationship while raising our children. We thought that the kids were the number one responsibility and that we came second to their needs. I believe this is the point in the relationship where a lot of couples look at each other and say, “Who are you?”

Sure it would be easy to just get busy with outside things and avoid alone time with each other especially when we seem to feel like such strangers with each other but we are choosing to face this hard time and speak our truth instead of hiding behind the mask of busyness and work. If ever I thought that in my life I have always been an honest, truth telling person I am here to tell you that there is no vulnerability and truth like what you experience when you choose to be open and honest about yourself and your relationship with your spouse.

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it is served up.” –George R.R. Martin

It’s been a few months of this kind of routine, of coming together and talking and being honest about where we each are at in our lives and on our own life road. Our agenda is to see if indeed we are meant to stay together or have we exhausted our purpose together? There have been tears on both parts and there have been times when we needed to separate away from one another for a bit just to breathe and get our bearings but we seem to manage to come back together and pick up where we left off. It feels like we are breaking each other open like an egg and pouring out from the comfort of the shell and exposing ourselves to the elements. It has been scary and tender and in a way kind of beautiful because we are seeing each other in a new light.

I have to say that I have never felt more in control of my life as I do right now in being as truthful and vulnerable as I’ve been with my husband lately. There is some kind of magic in all that vulnerability and honesty and it has kind of set me free. My spirit has power now that it never had before and my soul feels lighter and more spiritual. If we stay together or go our separate ways we will each be stronger, brighter, shinier and more self-aware than ever before.

I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we are actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we are suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before.” –C. Joybell C.

I won’t lie and say that coming together and holding each other accountable for our own truth is easy. Just as in coaching we try not to avoid or pretend a truth, whether in a relationship context or a parent context or a personal context. We do this by staying accountable and keeping each other focused on the thing we want to achieve. We have faith that whatever the outcome we did all we could to discover our truth.

It isn’t easy at all and as we go through each conversation we find ourselves that much deeper into a story started long ago but the point is that things can’t get better if we don’t start somewhere. Say the first word, write the first thought or question, or express the first feeling. Nothing can get better if the status quo stays the status quo.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Truth and vulnerability summon courage to make a stand. Opportunity exists in the triad. If we stay shy and self-preserved or self-protective then anything that might have been, good or bad or better than imagined, stays locked away forever. The saying that “the truth shall set you free” is really quite remarkable when you actually experience it. The key, in my humble opinion, is that you have to trust to some great degree the person you are telling your truth to. You have to have inner courage to say what is real and what you need and what you want out of life. You have to be willing to expose your inner self to questions and comments and opinions but not be swayed by these things. Tough, tough, tough to do.

Dr. Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

So how do we cultivate the triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage?

Show up fully loaded: Exist in a space that is solely devoted to another person. Leave your ego at the door and don’t allow it to come in, even when it starts pounding and demanding.

Stay engaged: The easiest thing to do would be to let go. Let go of the relationship, let go of the trying, and/or let go of listening. The triad asks you to stay engaged. Don’t let go, don’t give up until you have spoken and listened and experienced every truth, vulnerability and act of courage in the face of the adversity.

Enlist your tribe: There is no glory in going through life alone. We need each other. We were designed that way. How ironic that we try to avoid being open and vulnerable and truthful to the very people we need, whether in the short term or the long haul. “We need support. We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the arena” says Dr. Brown.

Whether you choose the people for your tribe to be family, certain friends, coaches, therapists, or teachers it doesn’t matter just so long as you have that go to person for that all important moment when you realize you NEED help and encouragement to get back up and go again.

Make peace with the rules of living a wholehearted life: If you are truly, truthfully living a full and engaged life then there will always be vulnerable moments, weak moments, and moments where courage needs to be summoned. If you opt out of the things that scare you, push you, test you, challenge you, engage you out of your comfort zone then you are only living a ½ life. Even in those sheltered life experiences you set up so perfectly for yourself you will face vulnerability and truth.

Rule: If you are alive you are vulnerable. End of story. The band Rush says so well in their song “Freewill”, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Words like scared, judgmental, controlling, perfecting, unwilling and angry are all words you need to face the truth about. LIVE OUT LOUD. It is so freeing.

Journey On…..

Call to Action

Ask and answer for yourself:

What happens inside of me when I feel vulnerable or exposed?

What truth am I afraid to face?

What truth am I believing that could be looked at from a new perspective?

How do I self-protect when I feel vulnerable?

When do I think it is safe to take any emotional risks?

What circumstances challenge me toward inner courage even though I am scared to death?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building character strengths, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

Are you the adult you want your children to become?

baby jessica 001 Whispers from my Wallpaper…..

                     Are you the adult you want your children to become?

Dr. Brene` Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, author and teacher, asks this very important question in her book, Daring Greatly. If you haven’t read the book I highly suggest you do. Go directly to chapter 7 and read through this enlightening chapter on “Daring to be the parent we want our children to be.” It helps if you read the book from the beginning but if you are a parent struggling with this crazy, mixed up world and feeling that perhaps your way of parenting seems like it is just not enough then read this chapter first.

I never thought twice about becoming a parent. It was just the natural, expected course my life would eventually take. I, like so many before me, wanted to do things a bit “better” than my parents did it while also putting my own stamp of parenting that was  a bit different from how they parented, but overall I hoped that I would be as good at parenting my own children as my parents were for me.

Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “What we are teaches our children more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” Our job is to love ourselves and accept ourselves first if we want the same for our children. This is a hard thing to do, accept and love ourselves in order to be accepting and loving toward our children? I do have the capacity to love and be loved and I want to love and be loved by those that I hold most dear. I really feel that what is most important is empathy. To be able to feel and understand what others are feeling.

My youngest son is going through a hard time right now trying to figure out himself and his place in the world. Life is changing very rapidly for him, taking twists and turns that he, in most cases, has no control over. As I watch him struggle, I worry whether I’ve given him all the skills he needs to live as an adult, and I spontaneously feel guilty for what I see as my failures. This was the vibe I was getting from my son. I was feeling guilty thinking that I had done something wrong in how he was raised and I wanted to “check in” with him on this. Where is his sense of belonging, worthiness, self-confidence right now?

According to Dr. Brown guilt says, “I did something bad” as opposed to shame which says, “I am bad.”  When we apologize for something we have done, make amends, or change a negative behavior into a positive behavior in order to better align with our own values, the influence on ourselves, our children, and our world is positive. Getting our thinking and our actions back to zero, back to “normal” is like finding the level playing field. Just because our bodies have matured on the outside and we are now labeled “adults” doesn’t mean our insides have kept up. When our children feel shame or guilt and display behaviors that make us feel embarrassed we very quickly go back to a time in our own lives, in our own story when we remember feeling that too.

“The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” –Carl Jung

As parents we have the choice, but more importantly, the obligation to show our children that it’s okay to screw up sometimes by turning mistakes into successes through learning from them. We show our children that they are not alone in the life struggles they go through by telling them stories of our own struggles with a simple “me too” which opens the door to great communication and safe spaces. When we share our guilt and vulnerabilities with our children we not only mature our own adult insides but we make it normal for our children to let life’s experiences and vulnerabilities be okay. Their stories and our story help their insides mature as well. We are telling them that it is so okay to have chapters that don’t quite feel so good. Ultimately, it is what can be learned from each experience, good and bad that makes the story worth telling.

Reading through Dr. Brown’s book I had to ask my son if he feels doubt about himself in any way, if he feels vulnerable, if he feels like he has made mistakes that he is letting define him now, if he feels like he belongs with us as a family member, because I know he doesn’t feel like he belongs at school or with the kids he goes to school with. Dr. Brown talks about “belonging” as requiring us to BE who we are. Well how do we know how to be who we are if we don’t really know who we are?

“ Belonging”, says Dr. Brown, “is being accepted for who you are; being somewhere where you want to be and where the people around you want you to be; getting to be “you” no matter what is happening in your life or the decisions you make.” My son and I talked at length about these definitions and I am so happy to say that he does feel like he belongs, he just feels like a disappointment sometimes. I get that. I’ve felt that way a time or seven in my lifetime. I was so happy to be able to normalize his feelings with a resounding , “me, too.”

I needed to help my son know that disappointment was okay and that it was a good measuring stick to help shape his road map toward becoming the best adult, the best person he can be. The relief on his face was palpable. His sense of “belonging” to the outside world will come as he moves through it and works with the world. But I needed to make sure he understood that he unconditionally belongs with us – his family, his foundation. Disappointment will happen throughout his life but it will diminish to “every once in a great while” instead of the “oh so often” feeling he has right now.

“Let your face speak what is in your heart.” –Toni Morrison

When your child walks into a room do you first notice what he/she is wearing and make judgments and criticize or do you light up at the miracle that just walked in the room? Actions do indeed speak louder than words even if your actions are as simple as a smile, a welcome hug or an expression of belonging and worthiness.

There is a body language to parenting that we sometimes forget to incorporate into our job as a parent. Our bodies need, no, must remember to speak with emotions like compassion, engagement, empathy, attention, “me, too” and “I get it”. My mom said to me just before my daughter was born, “never forget what it felt like when…..” I have taken this to heart and let it guide me through every age and stage my children have achieved. It was this way of thinking that helped put me in my son’s shoes to get the conversation started about where he is at right now.

We can’t be perfect parents, husbands, wives, children, etc. because there is no such thing as perfect but we can be perfectly imperfect with the love we express. We can be messy and we can be ourselves and we can be our story. Let your face speak what is in your heart. Journey On with your children through the rest of your story and show them that their story is just as great and can be greater.

If you would like to learn how coaching can empower you to live life with purpose and perspective please write to Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com and watch for Lisa’s forthcoming book, “A Leap of Faith.”